Commodities - U.S. Crude Heads for Flat Week After Sharp Decline in July

Aug 03, 2018

Oil prices traded slightly lower on Thursday, after a solid rebound in the prior session, as bullish and bearish trends balanced after July’s sharp decline.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 32 cents, or 0.46%, to $68.64 a barrel by 11:01 AM ET (15:01 GMT).

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded down 11 cents, or 0.15%, to $73.34.

U.S. crude declined 7.4% in July, but was mostly flat this week - off just 0.1% since last Friday - as some bullish news spurred investors to retake positions in black gold.

Information provider Genscape reportedly said Thursday that U.S. crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude stateside, had fallen by 1.1 million barrels since Friday, July 27. That added to official data out on Wednesday that said those stockpiles decreased by 1.338 million barrels last week.

Capping gains, concerns remained about escalating output from the OPEC and Russia.

On June 22-23, OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed to return to 100% compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction elsewhere had pushed adherence above 160%.

Even though output continued to decline in Iran, Libya and Venezuela, the survey suggested that compliance had only fallen to 111% in July, suggesting more room for increasing production from the likes of Saudi Arabia or OPEC’s non-member ally Russia.

Market participants will also keep an eye on production developments in the U.S. as Baker Hughes releases its weekly data later on Friday.

The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by 3 to 861 last week, according to oilfield services firm’s data. That was the first rig count rise in three weeks, pointing to signs of U.S. output growth.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures gained 0.86% $2.0823 a gallon by 11:03 AM ET (15:03 GMT), while Heating Oil advanced 0.22% to $2.1364 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures traded up 1.46% to $2.857 per million British thermal units.